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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight at conversation with one of classical music's stars, lang lang. he has an all chopin disk. he is performing to benefit the lang lang international music foundation. a conversation with lang lang coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: always pleased to welcome lang lang, the hottest artist on the classical music planet according to "the new york times". he released "the chopin album" and will be performing a special concert on october 30 benefiting his international music foundation and this past summer he just turned 30, not bad for a guy who has made the "time 100" list. so much to get to.
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some of the making of the chopin album. ♪ >> japan is not just exercisers -- chopin is not just exercise your fingers. today i want to start playing again. i'm not just focused on technical point but i realize why i'm doing this interpretation. over the years we learned how to serve for the musical [inaudible] ♪ tavis: when we sat down, japan has a special place in my heart. -- chopin has a special place in
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my heart. i recall saying to the teacher, who is this "choppin" guy? i came to appreciate the work. why take on this project now? 30 --ce i am turning for me, i alayways love to play chopin. i never actually recorded a chopin solo album. i am recording some of his etudes. he makes everyone practice really hard. eart felt passion. and the "minute waltz" is the
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first piece, every kid playing, it is that. a friend. tavis: i love the word that you used in that piece talking about this project. you referred to this as your interpretation of chopin. that is all that any artist can do is to interpret the work. but when you sit down to interpret his work, what are you trying to get us to hear? what are you trying to deliver to us through your unique interpretation? >> his music is very romantic. he is basically the main person for creating piano music.
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for me, he is not just very beautiful, very melancholy. he is very exciting and dynamic. sometimes the intent -- we forget about that. we only talk about his beautiful part. i think he has a lot of passion. such incredible energy, intensity. that comes up also sometimes. tavis: when you were here last, you were talking about your -- memoir. your book came out. since you were here last, your father put a book out about his life with you. you wrote your book -- your book was dedicated to your father. he was very tough on you when
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you were a kid, your father was. is dedicated your book and you are 30 and her father wrote a book about his life with you. what most wounded your touch do about what your father had to say about you in his book? >> i was crying when i was reading his book. it is only in chinese but it will be translated. i realize actually he was, he was a warm person but he is trying to hide his emotions. for me, it feels kind of strange. i thought he was very strict. i thought he was very crucial. he really loved me so much in a very different way than what i thought. there are many stories he shared.
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like decisions, where he made those decisions. -- why he made those decisions. i really respect because after so many years it feels like i'm starting to realize how, to know my father as a person rather than just a father. quite emotional when i started reading. tavis: you mentioned where father's book is just dying chinese but it will be translated into english but -- your father's book is in chinese but it will be translated into english. what you make of the lang lang effect? there are 40 million people, you are riresponsible for 40 million chinese who are taking piano. you push them into this by your
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success. how does it make you feel? >> it feels good but at the same time i hope the kids learning piano because they are loving music. sometimes you know the big difference that if your parents are pushing you rather than you want to do something, it is to complete different worlds. when i started teaching kids in china or around the world, i always want to say that. you need to start loving what you do first. then you realize what you're doing that. otherwise it is wasting of time. tavis: how did you and why are you so passionate about kids? it is impossible to talk to you for more than two or three minutes without hearing directly from you, without feeling the passion that you have four children, for teaching them piano in this country, around the world.
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you do not have kids yet. and yet you have this passion. always have had for kids. where did that come from? >> because i know how music changed my life. i know from the beginning, music became my best friend. piano became my soul mate. and how i learned from music and how i learned from the people around music. music took me to another level which totally open up my mind. and gave me so much inspiration to do better in many areas. not just musically but to be a better person and to be more creative. and to communicate with different people around the world and to basically create a better surrounding of our society. i think today we need to help to
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educate more kids and inspire them to learn music. we hope that music will inspire them. tavis: talk to me why it specifically you think classical music, your specialty and your renown is in the classical field. a lot of these kids are taking a classical music. what you think classical music has to offer young people? >> classical music has a deep meaning. maybe it is harder to understand. comparing classical music to barack or hip-hop. it takes us -- rock or hip-hop. it is -- if it is difficult to
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understand it means the performances bad. is bad.erformance maybe some art takes more time but when you get it, it stays there. tavis: i wrote this down. i have this written down because i wanted to walk through because the work that you are doing with young kids is so powerful and moving for me. this performance coming out is to benefit your foundation but i want to give the audience a sense of all the different things that you do with young people. because there are some different programs. you have the young scholars program. tell me about the young scholars program. >> we have 12 young pianists
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from age 8 through 14 around the world. we have three in the u.s., three in asia, and three in europe. three from other parts of the continent. we help them to have a better opportunity to perform with a wonderful orchestras at such an early age and also some of my teachers, we will teach them as well. give them the master class. i give them three months, one master classes in three months and some of those kids already played by themselves and also with me three times at carnegie hall. i am really proud of the process of those kids. they are improving every day. you see it. and when they perform, they are
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totally sure they totally share their par with everyone. tavis: another program called lang lang and friends live. >> this is in carnegie hall we're actually doing that. this concert will have a great actor like alec baldwin, he will be the host and my friend and i will play a duet and will have a great jazz singer, we will do "sound of music" together and we will play six of these dollars. tavis: there's the piano master class and the 101 pianist's that we saw a moment ago. there is the in school music program. many people saw you on oprah winfrey. i cannot imagine they will ever
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forget that as long as they live, being with you on national television. you and these three kids pulling together. that is what changes lives. >> for me that was a highlight of the foundation, to be part of searching the smartest kids on the planet. and i had a great chance to take this three kids to play with me on that stage. it was beautiful. tavis: this may be a silly question but let me ask for your take on this. do you think that you are still getting better as an artist? >> i think this year the performance from in standing is better than last year. somehow. maybe i slept more this year. tavis: every time i hear you, i am not a creek. i think you are all that and
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then some. when you say you are getting better and you think your performances are better, what is your unit of measurement? how'd you come to this conclusion that you were better now than a year ago? based on what? >> that is a great question. i am trying to sit in a more accurate way. first of all, every year you learned all things and in one year you are working with a lot of musicians. last year had a great privilege andork with herbie hancock' the great conductor who played in the opening london olympics. and also i met so many great artists from the pop world as well. watching live shows, live concert, live operas, all those things, you learn those things in piano playing and i give you a different dimension on the
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keyboard. experience, learning experience, concert, whenever you see. tavis: because i love and respect herbie, when you get a chance to spend time with him, what do you take away from the experience with playing with a guy like herbie hancock? >> every note he touches is like a diamond. to have that touch, to hear that and to play four hands and have a kind of touch, it is an amazing experience. he has so many great friends like quincy jones. imad currency already five times. -- i met quincy already five times.
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tavis: q does have a legendary life style. love him. tell me about what is on this -- on "the chopin album." >> we have 12 etudes which are difficult to perform. on the dvd part, there's a video shof when i was playing the etudes when i was 12. there is the chopin "nocturnes," which are the most beautiful. tavis: what makes the etudes so difficult to play? when you say it is difficult
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given how proficient you are, i take your word that it is difficult to play. what makes it so difficult to play? >> some of the etudes like "the soter wind," is iit is difficult. the figuring is hard to play even. it is already difficult but it is level one. and how to make those runs like winds, like rote coasters in the most beautiful, artistic ways rather than playing like a scale. like other your neighbors. so that takes time. in need to -- you need to have a power balance mentally and physically. that takes a long time to practice. that is just the technical side. there is some music.
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i still remember when i was a kid i found this beautiful music but i did not understand what is the meaning under the notes. now start to play, i start to digest, almost like drinking a cup of tea and digest. tavis: to your point about the technical proficiency that you have to have to take -- place of the the tubes -- etudes. prince and i were having a conversation. it was specifically about how he knew that he was -- how he knew he was playing his best, that he was really giving the kind of interpretation he wanted to give. he is not playing classical stuff but the conversation was about the fact that critics will
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tell you, music critics will tell you when you think -- they think you are on or off when you got it just right or you had a horrible performance. so often, these critics are not anywhere near as proficient as you are. there critiquing you but they could not do it if you had a gun to their had so people can critique prince but put the guitar in their hand, they fail, i say all that to ask that how do you know when you have got this thing just right? it cannot be because the critics tell you that. there has to be something beyond the critics. how you know when to get japan just right -- chopin just right? it is something you feel, is it someone who tells you, someones opinion you trust? >> a combination. first of all, yourself knows where is the problems.
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tavis: you can feel it. >> and you practice all those problems and you need to find someone who really understand who you are. in the past it was like my father. my piano teachers. when i turned 30, it cannot have them next to you. you need to have some music friends who knows what they're doing and they start listening to some recording -- you send a recording to them or download a live concert and get a second opinion. at the same time to listen to some other recordings from the past. like arthur rubinstein. to get some ideas of how musicians were interpreting the same work 50 years ago. and to see how do you do it now in the 21st century but still kept the tradition. and of course, when you get a lot of comments about your
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playing it is good things but if you listen carefully with every comment, it drives you nuts. some people say i think this should be like that. this should be the opposite. what i like going to do -- what am i going to do? you will find your own way and to believe it. you will be confident with what you're trying to do but in the same time, try to open your ear up for good suggestions. tavis: i will take that. i found this to be fascinating and i am sure you know this having done your research. chopin's 30 public appearances in a lifetime. 30 public appearances. lang lang, 130 public appearances every year. chopin, 30 appearances lifetime. lang lang, 130 appearances
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throughout the year. what do you have to say about that? >> it is a different time. it would take a whole day from one village to another village. from europe to america takes a few hours. tavis: that is a lot of playing, though. >> yeah. chopin was also a great composer. he needed to write every day. the the thing about me is we didn't have that challenge because there are so many great works. tavis: is composition something you want to do more of? >> i can do raytown's. -- ring tones. tavis: it is a different era. chopin was not doing ring tones. that is funny.
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the new lang lang is called "the chopin album." lang lang fans like yours truly will want to add that to your collection. you come back any time. >> next to my place something. tavis: i said that. i can't afford the kind of piano he plays to get tuned. next time you come in i will find a piano. every time you come in you never play. promise you do it? handsll we do it for hanour also? tavis: i will do it with you. that is our show for tonight. thanks for tuning in. as always, keep the faith.
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♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with phyllis bennett. that is next time. will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to
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fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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Tavis Smiley
PBS October 11, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT

News/Business. Lang Lang. (2012) Musician Lang Lang. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 3, Lang Lang 2, U.s. 2, Herbie Hancock 2, Tavis Smiley 2, London 1, Asia 1, Europe 1, Carnegie Hall 1, Olympics 1, Pbs 1, Smiley 1, New York 1, Los Angeles 1, America 1, Phyllis Bennett 1, Arthur Rubinstein 1, Chopin 1, Herbie 1, Alec Baldwin 1
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on 10/11/2012